Would Georgia win big with casinos? Neutral study suggests it wouldn’t

Rep. Alan Powell reads a copy of HR 807, which would amended the Constitution to allow gambling in Georgia, Feb. 25. (AJC Photo/ Brant Sanderlin)

Rep. Alan Powell reads a copy of HR 807, which would amended the Constitution to allow gambling in Georgia, Feb. 25. (AJC Photo/ Brant Sanderlin)

You know what they say: The house always wins. It even sets the numbers to its liking before it has permission to open its doors.

Casino operators will be back at the Gold Dome next year, again seeking a constitutional amendment to legalize their business in Georgia. No one pumps nearly $325,000 into campaign accounts, as three gambling entities did between October and January, and walks away empty-handed after one failed shot.

They’ll tout impressive numbers about the wonders they’d do for our economy. Should you buy it?

Fortunately, you don’t have to. Wary of the effect casinos might have on downtown Atlanta’s businesses, Central Atlanta Progress commissioned its own economic study.

“We felt like we needed some information that wasn’t just all provided by the industry,” says the group’s president, A.J. Robinson. (Legislators statewide are now feigning surprise they didn’t think of this first.)

In summary, the picture isn’t quite so pretty.

The study, based on data from similar U.S. cities, found the industry is probably right about the potential size of Georgia’s gambling market. But it undermines the argument legalizing casinos is mostly about keeping Georgia gamblers within our borders and attracting new tourists.

“Really, the gaming industry wants to get into the pockets of the six million people who live in the Atlanta area,” Robinson says. “That’s not really part of their messaging, but it’s clear from the data.”

The study projects three-quarters of gambling revenues would come from Georgians. That’s logical: The industry isn’t itching to come here to cannibalize its nearby casinos, but because America has few if any larger untapped markets.

In fact, the study estimates less than 6 percent of the revenue for a metro Atlanta casino would come from out-of-state folks who wouldn’t have visited otherwise. The number would be much higher in Savannah, but between the two we could expect new visitors to spend only about $1 out of every $8 gambled.

Nor does the “keep ’em home” argument hold up. The study found Georgians spend at least $570 million a year at casinos in neighboring states. But even if we assume most of that money would flow to Georgia casinos, we’re talking about only a quarter of Georgia’s total gambling market.

That leaves almost two-thirds of potential gambling revenues. Robinson said more research is needed to determine how much of that spending now goes to other tourist attractions and retailers, but I think it’s safe to assume most people aren’t doing well enough to save up a Strategic Gambling Reserve. More likely, other businesses will lose much of that $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion.

Here, we get to one of the rubs in this whole matter. From a purely revenue-hungry standpoint, the state might be glad for this money to be taxed at the proposed rate of 20 percent rather than its sales tax rate of 4 percent. But local governments might not come out so well, and Robinson says the industry has spent far less time working with city leaders than with state legislators.

Yep. The (state)house always wins.

Reader Comments 0

101 comments
Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

The state should also be looking at the degree to which casino gambling (taxed at 20%) would cannibalize the state-run lottery (where the state takes about 50%).

The lotteries are one of the few ways Georgia's takers give back to their communities and we should be careful that we do not reduce their contributions to pre-K and the Hope scholarship program.

Ychromosome
Ychromosome

Casinos are a bad idea. I actually agree with KW. Once. 

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

Quick Trump update. Vince Dooley and Herschel Walker have endorsed The Donald.

Bruno2
Bruno2

Quick gambling update:  I bought 3 scratch off tickets last night, a $3, a $10 and a $30.  The $3 ticket gave me my money back, the $10 and $30 were losers.  Net loss: $40.  Not the best odds with those scratchers.....

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Do you support Democrat protesters punching peaceful Trump supporters?

lvg
lvg

@Lil_Barry_Bailout @DaltonbywayofBickley @RoadScholar You mean those people peacefully exercising their right of free speech to tell your imbecile candidate and his two Georgia bootlickers what they thought of them?Is it a violation of the Constitution to hold up a fu-- Trump sign?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Lil_Barry_Bailout @DaltonbywayofBickley @RoadScholar There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience. So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell—  I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise. It won’t be so much ’cause the courts agree with us too.


- Donald Trump


Who is inciting the violence again ?

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Loser Democrats are committing virtually all the violence. Thanks for the red herring though.

lvg
lvg

Hey cons if you really like to gamble- vote for Trump just like you voted for his fellow bigot- Perdue.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@lvg

"Bigot" being defined as "anyone who doesn't share may insanely freakish leftist views".

lvg
lvg

@Hedley_Lammar @Lil_Barry_Bailout @lvg Poor Lil - Barry is so brainwashed  he does not know a bigot when he sees one unlike Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney. Must be the Georgia connection.

Helena James
Helena James

what Lois answered I'm alarmed that you able to get paid $9299 in one month on the internet. did you read this web site

.,......HERE---->c­­­­­o­­­­­l­­­­­o­­­­­r­­­­­s­­­­­3­­­­­4­­­­­.­­­­­c­­­­­o­­­­­mᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵ

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

I'd wager (see what I did there?) that many of those who oppose legalizing gambling support legalizing drugs.

How do you rationalize your paternalism and denial of free will in the former case?

goat diddler
goat diddler

Kansas has casinos... Kansas is doing well... Oh wait... Maybe not...

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Lil_Barry_Bailout I'm fine with legalized gambling. And I support legalizing Marijuana. 


But not hard drugs. I dont know many in favor of that.


Got any more strawmen you care to throw out there this morning ?

Karen J Britton
Karen J Britton

nope I live in Las Vegas before and the south couldn't handle the black lash.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Could Georgia win big with Casinos ? Why not, Detroit did

Benjamin Stubblefield
Benjamin Stubblefield

Casinos destroy communities, and syphon money from the poor. The income gathered will not recompense the lives destroyed, and neighborhoods blighted!

Johnny Knight
Johnny Knight

ATL has enough TOILET Communities! We don't another one just with NEON lights to show people where it is.

elduderino404
elduderino404

Curious.....who funds Central Atlanta Progress?  Did a limited search online couldnt find that info online Kyle.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

OT


Looks like the Orlando shooter was gay himself. He was a regular at the club.


He must have had a lot of internal conflict.


Calling 911 and claiming that he was acting on behalf of ISIS is a way for these extreme types to justify their actions. In other words they are lying to themselves. Sounds like this guy had been doing that for awhile.


ISIS will distance themselves from this guy pretty quick when they find out he was gay.


http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/orlando-shooter-reported-pulse-club-regular-patrons-article-1.2672445

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Don't worry, some America-hating leftist will noodle out a reason why it's still the fault of Christians, and Dems will be able to continue their campaign of hate.

lvg
lvg

@Lil_Barry_Bailout No it is the fault of the Saudis who created and disseminated Radical Islam in Mosques throughout the world. Waiting for your new leader to say what he will do about the Saudis that current President has not done to contain their virulent strain of Islam. Too complicated for average Con to understand.

lvg
lvg

@Lil_Barry_Bailout @lvg Therein is an Excellent  example of the typical ignorant con. GOP has always favored the Saudis for their oil.Reagan and Bushes kissed their butts.


Obama has carefully driven a wedge between US and Saudis without acting like a grade school bully and called them out for their virulent support of radical Islam. Even Sean Hannity to my surprise discussed the Saudi sponsorship of Radical Islam last night. 



TicTacs
TicTacs

I would hate to see a state run casino.(If the state wants to run vice, brothels would be a big attraction)   If you have casinos you must have more than one, competition is the name of the game in the legal gaming world.  Cherokee and Murphy can simple take 12% cut off the slots and build a many teepee, while not offering any free drinks or comps comparable to say the MS gulf coast not to mention bigger regulated payout returns and competition can make for even better payout returns.  Big money is made for the state of MS.

They don't build those places on winners,  but some games have less house edge than others.  Purely recreational, it you can't afford to lose stay at the house.   Some say it creates crime and problems, but just like booze, is it the person or the drug ?  Big money is a drug itself that the politicians love to mainline...


Freedom scares some people.

Bruno2
Bruno2

"Some say it creates crime and problems, but just like booze, is it the person or the drug?"

Jefferson--I think you are the only one today who brought up the issue of the "collateral damage" that comes with institutionalized gambling.  Many of the posters below take the "who am I to tell people how to spend their money?" attitude, but the reality is that a non-trivial percentage of people have great difficulty controlling their gambling bug and will lose their life savings in a hurry with a casino in town.  I know from personal experience because my Dad was a compulsive gambler and our family suffered greatly as a result.

Some may argue that that these gamblers are going to lose anyway, so why shouldn't the state take a cut, but opening a casino can turn an occasional vice into a full-time obsession due to the availability and fast action.  Having to wait 20 minutes between races at the race track slows the wagering down a bit.  Most casino games last less than 1 minute and slot machines can spin every few seconds. 

The bottom line:  I understand that many people feel that it's not the state's responsibility to control people's vices, but at the same time, is it a legitimate function of the state to create vice where none existed previously??

CallMeStupid
CallMeStupid

@Jefferson1776  I agree. It's like Harrah's in New Orleans - not a loose slot in the house.  If you are going to have Casinos there should be a minimum of four.  

bu22
bu22

@Bruno2 Agree totally.  Much easier to lose money fast.  And society ends up paying for it.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Hedley_Lammar Again, I do not advocate gambling. But I find even your post condescending and devoid of reasoning. I could say the same about people spending outrageous amounts of money for tickets for sporting and other events.

What I am driving at is, what is it about casino gambling in Georgia that would be so catastrophic? What about horse racing? Do we think people of Georgia are of such weaker character that they would suffer irreparable harm, compared with people in other places with gambling? Is the debate really about legislating morality?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@MarkVV @Hedley_Lammar Wasn't trying to be condescending. Just stating a simple fact that if people took the money they gambled and invested it they would have a far better outcome. And it isnt out of reach for most Americans. Anyone can start a Roth IRA with just a hundred bucks. Its the acorn that becomes the mighty oak.


You are correct people waste money in all sorts of ways. Its not my business to tell them how to spend their money. I'm sorry if it came off that way. My intent was that someone reading this might go that route. And benefit greatly from it. Call it my personal public service announcement.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Hedley_Lammar @MarkVV I appreciate it and I hope others do the same. As one who has taken advantage of Roth IRA, I can attest to what you wrote.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Yup, especially for young people, whose tax rates will never again be as low as they are today.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@Hedley_Lammar @MarkVV P.S. The Roth IRA isn't the best choice for everyone.  In most cases, the math works out about the same for a Roth vs a traditional IRA when you factor everything in.  For an older person like me, the upfront deduction of the traditional IRA is worth more than the back-end savings with a Roth IRA.

bu22
bu22

@MarkVV @Hedley_Lammar As stated above, its a lot harder to lose money quickly in horse racing.  For some it may be about legislating morality.  For me, its something that creates a weaker overall economy taking money from productive pursuits, creates social problems that we all have to pay for where they didn't exist before and it preys heavily of the bottom half of the income scale.

bu22
bu22

@MarkVV @Hedley_Lammar I've gambled at Jai-Alai, horse tracks and casinos and don't have any problem with gambling.  I just don't want the casinos here.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@xxxzzz @Hedley_Lammar I am not favor of casinos here either, but I would like to hear well-reasoned arguments against them. So far I have not heard any that would not apply the same way to other forms of entertainment, betting, etc. This NIMBY attitude does not impress me. And I wonder how many people would openly favor legislating morality - that is really the proverbial slippery slope.